American musician Andrew Laitres has been growing The Winter Tree since since 2010.
His previous band Magus were fond of the long-form tune, but Earth Below is a more concise affair. Opener Plank may mislead, as its jaunty, Supertramp-evoking vibe isn’t completely representative of the whole album. The slightly gentler quality here is surely due in part to the presence of ex-Änglagård drummer and percussionist Mattias Olsson, along with White Willow’s Jacob Holm-Lupo handling production duties (and occasional keyboard part). Both the title track and The Light both build to a full band workout, but are ultimately soft, acoustic guitar-based tunes vaguely reminiscent of the Moody Blues and Trepass-era Genesis, while album closer A Thousand Futures retains the dreaminess with piano, flute and some lovely vocal harmonies. Electric piano underpins The World Upon Her Shoulders, a snapshot of a woman in danger of losing herself, and The Garden Of Love sets a doleful William Blake poem to music with a short and sweet guitar solo thrown in. With pleasing multi-part vocals at almost every turn, this nice collection puts melody and songcraft at the forefront.